Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Blue & Gold Pride
October 12, 2018
Yesterday afternoon, 700 students, guests, and table hosts gathered at a spectacular Annual Scholarship Recognition Ceremony. The speaker, Andrew Wiener, son of scholarship benefactor Bob Weiner, is the third generation to work in his family’s business. He did a great job valuing the varied experiences of our students and the supports that we provide to promote their success. An amazing solo performance by alumna Samantha Rentas wowed the crowd. And, alumna Clovis Morrison demonstrated how far a Westchester Community College degree can take you as she is now pursuing doctoral studies in nursing. Personal and meaningful student testimonials capped off the evening, which was a splendid display of Westchester Blue & Gold pride. Hearty thanks to Scholarship Director Sandra Ramsay and our Foundation Directors and Staff who have doubled the amount of student scholarships to $2 million annually since 2015!
I enjoyed exemplary student culinary creations at lunch this week with two second-year Phi Theta Kappa students – Alyssa Strickland, on a pre-medicine track, and John Henry, on a pre-engineering track. They shared a compelling vision for a PTK Honors project to use social media and video to explain basic college-going processes with the aim of retaining students at risk of not returning to Westchester Community College.
Next Wednesday is the first Imaginarium, which our Board of Trustees have encouraged as an open space to share innovative future-focused content and ideas on education, work, society, and technology. Thanks to Deputy CIO Garrett McAlister for facilitating the first discussion. Also thanks to Chief of Staff Dr. Shawn Brown, Vice President Eve Larner, Prof. Ellen Wasserman, and Prof. Rebecca Steere for being organizers and conveners this year.
The same day features an art gallery talk with artist Daniel Bejar about his current show, “Going Public.” Since it opened, it has garnered a wide range of reactions, some very strong. Gallery Director Prof. Melissa Hall published an essay providing more information about the works. Our College Board of Trustees approved a formal statement on freedom of expression from a Joint CUNY-SUNY Statement on Civil Discourse (attached) and also approved a new college values statement that references our work toward “bettering our society and our world” by “fostering an inclusive community through acceptance and understanding” and “responding to each other’s views and opinions without judgement.” Sharing, reinforcing, and enacting this policy among ourselves and with our students and guests can lead to greater enlightenment, understanding, and edification within our community of learners. And, we are creating a way that guests may offer reactions at the exhibit. We honor the hard earned right to free speech and welcome platforms like the Art Gallery from which we can express ourselves creatively and civilly.
I started this week at Manhattanville College with Provost Vanessa Morest meeting with President Michael Geisler and Provost Louise Feroe about ways to increase educational attainment in the county, particularly among students who might be a good fit for both our institutions. This partnership is one of many designed to help us expand and enhance our capacity to serve more students.
Save the date for common hour on November 1st. We will have a college-wide gathering to celebrate our many recent successes in attracting new resources to the college to support the ideas and initiatives that are underway. The event will also kick off our strategic planning process with an update from Co-Conveners Prof. Phil McGrath and Dawn Gillins.
I am thrilled to be ending my week at the Phi Theta Kappa New York Region Honors in Action conference focused on Projects that chapters will pursue this semester. Projects will tie into the Honors Study topic, “Transformations – Acknowledging, Accessing, and Achieving Change.” We look forward to updates on the work our PTK students will undertake for their project.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles